A pensioner has been jailed for falsely claiming £13,000 worth of benefits
72-year-old Ghulam Mohi Ud Din Raja told officials at Leicester City Council he only lived with his wife and rented his property from a private landlord, he in fact was living with three of his adult children and son-in-law, all of whom were employed. One of them owned the property, in Bowhill Grove, Thurnby Lodge, Leicester.
Raja was sentenced at Leicester Magistrates Court pleading guilty to five counts of dishonestly making false statements to claim benefits. Prosecutor Nicki Agalamanyi told the court the defendant had made claims for housing and council tax benefit by filling out claim forms in 2011.
She said, “Mr Raja claimed benefit on the basis that it was just him and his wife living at the address who, between them, were without an income.
“He said he paid £500 in rent a month to someone called Shazad Mahmood, whom he insisted was not a relative.
“In truth, his three adult children and son-in-law, who were working, were also residing at the property.
“And, furthermore, the property was owned by one of the sons – Ibrar Akhtar – so it was not a commercial tenancy.”
The court heard that Raja had filled out the claim forms despite knowing he could be prosecuted for providing false information. In total, Raja had pocketed £11,541 in housing benefit and £1,632 in council tax benefit. None of the costs have been paid back and the city council also demanded he pay a further £703 in costs.
The fraud investigation began when Raja’s son, Sajid Ali, applied for a taxi driver license to the city council from the same address. Checks were made on the electoral register and it was discovered that four adults were living in that address.
Defending, Amjid Ibrahim, said although his client’s “poor English” was no excuse but he did not intentionally set out to lie. He claims Raja had found it difficult to live with his wife on a £200 a-month state pension.
Ibrahim stated to the court, “This was his first offence and he is previously of good character. He is sorry and, through the embarrassment this has caused to his family, friends and community, it is a lesson learnt.”
Magistrate Anne Knight however countered, “This is a very serious matter, with aggravating features. You were fraudulent from the outset and The fraud continued for a length of time, over two-and-a-half years.”
Raja was given a 10-week prison sentence for each of the offenses, all to occur jointly, but suspended for two years. He was also ordered to pay costs and an £80 victim surcharge.